New solid-state drives still pack sticker shock

The newest Serial-ATA solid-state drives will be hitting retailer shelves, but would you buy one?

The newest solid-state drives are just starting to hit retail. But would you buy one?

Intel X25-M solid-state drive has received glowing reviews for its performance
Intel X25-M solid-state drive has received glowing reviews for its performance Intel

Solid-state drives are attractive because they're generally faster than hard-disk drives, particularly at reading data--generally something PC users spend most of their time doing.

But price is still an obstacle, especially to the frugal consumer.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based OCZ Technology is now offering some of the most competitively priced solid-state drives based the high-speed Serial ATA (SATA) II interface.

OCZ Vertex SSD drives start at $129 for a 30GB SSD. Other capacities include a 120GB drive for $469 and a 250GB SSD for $869. Though $869 may seem pricey compared to a 7200RPM 250GB hard-disk drive that can retail for well under $100, it's relatively cheap for a large-capacity SSD. In the past, SanDisk had sold a 256GB drive through resellers that was priced, almost incredibly, at more than $15,000. Axiom had been selling 256GB solid-state drives priced above $6,000.

OCZ says the Vertex Series of SSDs have a 1.5 million-hour mean time before failure (MTBF), "ensuring peace of mind over the long term." Solid-state drives, since their inception, have been plagued by doubts about write durability. SSD manufacturers such as Intel, Micron Technology, and Samsung say long-term durability is no longer an issue.

The OCZ drives are backed by a two-year warranty.

Intel's X25-M SATA solid-state drive is now widely available at retail. An 80GB X25-M is priced at just more than $500 at most retailers. Reviews of the X25-M's performance have been very positive.

Unfortunately, the only way to get the newest SSDs in some cases is by ordering a laptop. Samsung is now offering its latest-and-greatest 128GB SATA drives in ultraportable laptops such as the MacBook Air and the Dell Latitude E4200 and E4300.

The Latitude E4300 can be configured with a 128GB SSD for $460 more than the standard 160GB 5400RPM hard disk drive.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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